I would like to share with you another episode of "Morning Has Broken". Between 7:30 and 8:00 this morning, a layer of fog rose from the ground of Brightwood Park. The sunlight came through trees and created scenes reminding me of the description of the Garden of Eden. I took the first few pictures with my Canon camera and later switched to my iPhone 13 to get the contrast right.
The flowers planted by Rob waved at me. Not till I almost finished my journey did I become aware that among the flowers there was a king, accompanied by a golden crown (the purple coneflower).
It was a delight to see the waterfall forming at the dam again, after having a long dry summer. I felt so refreshed by this familiar sight and sound.
A sweetgum tree at the junction of the large and the small ponds was announcing the coming of foliage season. With many tree leaves falling prematurely due to the drought, one has to keep fingers crossed for a pretty and colorful autumn.
I woke up yesterday morning around 6:30 a.m. As much as I wanted to make up for some sleep that I lost, I was driven by an impulse to get up.
I wonder if you remember a story appearing in TV news back in the early 1980s. A United flight on its way from Honolulu to Los Angeles made an emergency landing because a passenger was trying to open the cabin door. After the landing he explained to security officers why he did it: "I heard the echo of nature telling me that I am a bird, and I am not supposed to be trapped in this cage." The news became a hot subject in the laboratory where I worked as a graduate student.
Well, as much as I laughed at the news back then, some forty years later, I found myself wacky by responding to the "echo of nature". No worries! I am crazy but will not make a drama anywhere else except home and Brightwood Park. 😊
The park apparently retained a lot of precipitation overnight. Evaporation from the ground created a light fog, allowing the rising sun to spray light beams into the woods. Seeing this in multiple areas, I could not help but shout out: "Brightwood!"
A gentle breeze came by and the water drops hiding in the trees started to dance and jump. It felt strange when the sky was blue with no clouds at all, and the sun was shining, a rain shower took place in the woods, A poor spider was totally unprepared. So was I. While the spider web was swinging, I started dancing in sync and singing "Raindrops keep fallin' on my head".
As I was about to leave, a smiling face on a tree waved at me. Despite the activities in the woods, the pond was as tranquil as a mirror. Without including the shore, a picture of the pond would be hard for one to tell which side is up.
The chairs by the shore reminded me of friends including Jack and Joan Miller who often sit there to watch ducks and geese. I long to see them there soon, and you, too!
Recent rainfalls brought everything back to life. The water of the pond reached the level of the dam to create a current of refreshment. Wood ducks started to come back. The birds were singing again. The turtles came out dancing. The spiders contributed fireworks. Young and old ganoderma mushrooms joined the celebration parade. New flowers are coming out in the mini-gardens at both the top and bottom of the meadow. The morning sun was busy setting up a spotlight and tried to determine the priority of objects.
Speaking of living creatures, some of them appear to have amazing instincts. I had an interesting experience yesterday morning after walking past the bridge and trying to take a few shots of the trees on the Northwest side of the pond. I first heard a blue jay screaming and saw the bird hopping swiftly toward the bridge, and then a squirrel from my right side made a strange sound like a baby blue jay's screaming. I stepped back and tried to take a picture of the bird. All of a sudden a large piece of tree branch fell in front of me. I thank the little friends for their warning and keeping me from being harmed. Kevin once shared with me his miraculous story of being saved by a dog from being hit by a flying rocket bomb shell. Divine interventions sometimes seemed to be delivered through our animal friends. Agree?
Shortly after 6 AM yesterday morning, I came to Brightwood Park. The rising sun sprayed golden light into the pond. The sky and the clouds were like a kaleidoscope. You have to keep watching to appreciate the rapidly changing patterns.
A duck family had already woken up and started its morning exercise. The seven chicks are now down to five. I have reason to believe two along with other disappearing ducks were taken into the water by turtles. In the past few days I heard several times of ducks screaming followed by a sudden silence.
I was joined by Claudia Cuca for an adventure walk. While we passed the bridge and exchanged our concerns about the expanding green and oily film (of algae?) in the large pond (feeling like someone kept pouring greening paint into the water), a bright spot appeared. It was a beautiful bird standing on a tree branch a distance away, combing its feathers and showing off its beautiful tail. At first look we thought it was a blue jay. With Caludia using her binoculars and me zooming my camera, we concluded it was not a blue jay but a male belted kingfisher. A female one would have had a colored "belt" on the belly.
As I shared before, Brightwood Park is a place of many wonders. It is "like a box of chocolates". "You never know what you are going to get" (borrowing the line from the movie "Forrest Gump"). Everytime I come to the park, the box is never empty and the chocolates are always wonderful and tasty.
Saturday morning in the park... A jumbo MD-11 jet flew by around 8:30ish. In the old days it was one of the two largest passenger jets. Despite the safety problems of its predecessor, DC-10, MD-11 is still a major model used by FedEx and UPS and dominates the sky, whereas its Boeing counterpart 747 has almost completely retired and disappeared in the sky.
The butterfly weed flowers in Rob's garden are turning from juvenile stage to young adult, just in time for a pageant walk in a beauty contest.
It is always a pleasure to see a duck family with all the babies safe and happy from one day to the other. This morning the mallard duck family was having fun going around on a self-guided tour. It appears there are less predators in the park this year. The wood duck families were not as lucky, despite being more alert. Last week I heard a screaming noise of a wood duck by the shrub not far away from the dam, after which the count of the original 11 dropped from 8 to 7. I checked around and saw no signs of land animals. It remains a mystery where there can be an attacker in the water.
More and more spiders are opening stores for business in the park. The owners took full advantage of using morning sunlight to beautify their presentations. If I were a judge, it would not be an easy job for me to give a score to determine which one wins an award. I found that spiders are remarkable "web designers". Some of the webs appeared to have no specific pattern and looked more like a meteor shower. After I examined them carefully, behind the "random coils" I saw beautiful patterns hiding behind, which reminded me of "alpha-helices" or "beta-pleated sheets". Forgive a retired biochemist for using the terms of describing protein secondary structures.
Speaking of using (or abusing) my scientific vocab, the spider web pictures sometimes made me think of the images recorded by James Webb and Hubble telescopes. If you are an astrophysicist, I hope you will laugh at me rather than feeling insulted and getting mad. 😁
Everytime I took a walk around the large pond, I was prompted by the layer of trees in my sight to pause and take a few pictures. Like my silly analogy of comparing spider webs to stars and the universe, I sometimes said to myself, "Once you have discovered Brightwood Park, no need to covet going to famous national parks." My wife and I feel so blessed to live in Westfield and being close to Brightwood Park, and of course, Mindowaskin Park, too. Sometimes we joked to each other that the two parks can be treated as our front and backyards. In case you think we have a strange sense of humor, here is another one for you to either frown your eyebrows or to laugh. When we were first married, both of us were graduate students. We lived in an apartment near Santa Monica Beach. I told my wife that although we could not afford to have a single house and a spacious property, the Landlord actually generously provided us with a huge yard, Palisades Park, and a big swimming pool, the Pacific Ocean, with no extra charge to our rent. There was no need for us to be jealous of those who lived in Beverly Hills. 😊
Summer appears to be a time for many creatures to present their best appearance. On Wednesday when I had a break in the afternoon I took an adventure in Brightwood to check out how the plants and the animals are adapting to the heat wave. The first thing that caught my eye was the bright yellow flowers of partridge pea in the mini-garden opposite to Rob's Demonstration Garden. They looked like ducklings or little angels, dressed in yellow outfits and flapping their little wings.
Next, I came upon two turtles kissing each other. I tend to think they were a mother-child pair.
Frogs are usually shy and jump away or dive in water when people or animals approach. There were a few who did not move a bit even when I was within 3 feet. I felt special. I took pictures of several of them. The ear region of the first one reflected the sunlight and glowed in multiple colors Another one had a ghost face to the right of its own, likely a special effect as if in a scene in a fairy tale.
Chipmunks are my favorite models, too. When they are not busy, they can be curious and stare at me for a long time.. I just wish I had a way to show them how pretty they are in pictures.
If Shakespeare had composed a play of "Dream of a Summer Day", dragonflies would likely be all over the stage. One can see many different kinds of this family of insects in Brightwood Park. I saw a dark-colored one standing on the v-shaped tip of a branch, and looking like a ballet dancer. A red-colored dragonfly bowed at me on a leaf, then followed this act by dancing around. At one point the beautiful creature took a break to allow me to take its taking portrait photo.
A green heron apparently did not want to miss the beauty contest. For photographic session, the bird wanted to look cool and presented like a Ford Mustang or a jet fighter.
The sun rays and cloud pictures were taken on my way home. How can a contest run without stage lights!
I walked in the park early Thursday morning. When I was passing the meadow area, next to the pollinating patch I thought I saw a shoe left by someone. When I took a closer look, it turned out to be a turtle mom delivering her eggs. After finishing the delivery and covering the cave, the turtle headed for the pond. On the way the turtle took a peek over the fence of Rob's Demonstration Garden. The beautiful flowers of butterfly weed not only entertained human visitors but also were appreciated by the turtle. Seeing more people walking dogs nearby, fearing the dogs might go after the turtle, I held the turtle and took her to the shore. During the course I queried the turtle how she handles the situation of being in an upside-down position. The answer was "no sweat!" I marveled at the swiftness of the creature's maneuver. After saying farewell to each other, the turtle returned to the pond.
In this park I have seen turtles laying eggs before. This is the first time I saw one traveling a long-distance, all the way to the stone dust-covered trail and digging holes for laying eggs.
At the shore I found two more places where eggs were freshly laid and hidden by other turtles. Next to the additional delivery rooms, nature gave a celebration by decorating the place with purple loosestrife flowers.
The dryness caused tree leaves to turn yellow prematurely and fall into the pond, looking like a shower under the morning sun. Dragonflies did not seem to mind the weather as long as there was still water in the pond. Two of them flew together and made a brief touch-down on a love boat, and then took off for a honeymoon in an undisclosed place.
A mother mallard duck took her 7 newborn babies on a tour in the pond with a wood duck guide.
Spider webs are unfavored in homes. It is a different story in the woods. They not only help to reduce the number of mosquitoes and flies, but offer colorful 3-D art presentations. Watching them vibrating in the morning breeze sometimes keeps me standing still for quite a while.
For quite some time, cosmos dominated the mini-world garden in the parking lot. They are pretty, both from a distance away and at close-in. Everytime I went to the park, I could not help but staring at them, like a high school boy watching young girls walking by. 😊
July 4th was a holiday for both people and animals. The park was quiet in the early morning. Although there were little motion activities, the plants were celebrating on their own. The grasses presented a formation under stagelight provided by the beams of sunlight.